The Pitfalls of “Shoulding”

Although I don’t want to, I have to I admit it. I am guilty of “shoulding” …of both myself and others. I “should” have my life figured out. She “should” be more considerate of my feelings. He “should” have remembered my birthday. The problem with “shoulding” is it all hinges on expectations…of myself, of others, of life itself.  I can pretty much be guaranteed to be disappointed when I have expectations. Sometimes reality exceeds my expectations, but so often, I am expecting things to be or sound or look a certain way, and when they don’t, I become disappointed. I think as humans we tend to do this in general. We so want to be in charge of things, to have control, to “know” what will happen.

There are many areas of expectation in our lives; of our career, our friends, and particularly of our romantic partners. There’s this kind of mythic idea of what love is…what it should look like, feel like, how your partner should be acting, how often you should talk, see each other etc. It’s basically impossible to know how things will end up, how your partner will react, how you will feel in the future. That’s the reason why books like “The Rules” are popular…in a mostly unknown and unstable world, having rules and frameworks set up within relationships makes one feel safe. However, they can often totally backfire. When reality doesn’t match up with expectations, we are disappointed, uncomfortable, and sometimes raging. Why didn’t he say XYZ? Why didn’t she do XYZ? Why do we say XYZ? 🙂

The Buddha said that the source of our suffering comes from expectation. When we relax and let ourselves flow with whatever is happening, we open ourselves up to more potential, a path for things to manifest in ways we couldn’t even possibly imagine with our narrow minds and world views and past experiences. Although it may feel safe to have a framework, by putting boundaries around what we think things should look like, we are actually limiting ourselves and the potential of the situation. Rather than spending our energy trying to create our ideal situation, we need to release and allow for all the beauty life has to offer to come our way. Will we get hurt? Yup. Will things go “wrong”? Yup. Will we (hopefully) be wiser, better, and stronger because of it? Yup.

The purpose of life, if I may be so presumptuous, is not for things to be easy for us, is not for us to be able to predict or control or dictate. The beauty and joy of life comes from its obstacles, the ability to rise up and overcome, to show ourselves the depth and breadth of our strength and resilience, to use the wisdom of our experiences to help ourselves and others. That is why we are here, that is why we struggle. (May we all )So let go, let God (or whoever else) and let yourself just be in the flow of wherever your life takes you.

About the Author
Ariella Siegel is a wanderer, traveler, and seeker of truth. She made aliya in July 2015 after completing her Masters in Religious Studies at Florida International University in Miami, FL. She is a writer and social media manager for an incredible company and is currently living in Tel Aviv.